Chennai: Former finance minister and party veteran leader P Chidambaram said the Congress will not project party president Rahul Gandhi or in that any other leader in particular as the prime ministerial face ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

In an exclusive interview to News18 Tamil, the leader said that the party is trying to rope in regional parties for a strong and grand coalition to take on the BJP next year. But has received mixed to negative response from potential allies.

“We never said that we want Rahul Gandhi to be prime minister. When few Congressmen were talking about it, the AICC intervened and stop such talk. We want the BJP to be ousted. In its place, we want to see an alternative government which is progressive, respects freedom of individuals, doesn’t indulge in tax terrorism, gives protection to women and children, and uplifts farmers,” he said.

“Our aim is to have an alliance. The Prime minister will be decided by the alliance partners after the election,” he added.

The statement comes as a shock as earlier this month, Gandhi said he was willing to become prime minister if allies want him, but the first step was for all parties to get together and defeat the ruling BJP. 

Admitting that regional parties have grown stronger in the last two decades and are eating into the votes of national parties, the former finance minister said the combined vote share of the BJP and Congress has plummeted below 50%. 

Chidambaram also accused the Centre of adopting “threatening tactics” to keep regional parties from joining hands with the Congress. 

“The situation would change once the government is reduced to a caretaker one and we form a formidable alliance at the state level,” he said.